Tornadoes, Earthquakes and Wildfires — the Natural Disasters That Scare Americans the Most

The Reviews.com Team
The Reviews.com Team
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Key findings:

  • A survey of 2,253 US residents conducted by the Reviews.com home insurance team found that Americans are afraid of tornadoes (44%) above all other natural disasters.
  • Earthquakes and wildfires came in second and third, at 16.3% and 16.1% respectively.
  • Location played a substantial role in people’s fears.

While there might be close to 20,000 earthquakes a year in the United States (most are so small, people report never feeling them), tornadoes scare US residents more than many major natural disaster. Every year, there are approximately 1,000 tornadoes, and almost every state has at least one.

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    With that in mind, it makes sense why, when we surveyed US residents on what natural disaster they are most personally afraid of, tornadoes topped the list with a dominant 44% of the vote. You can see the breakdown of responses below:

    Natural Disaster% of Response
    Tornadoes44.0%
    Earthquakes16.3%
    Wildfires16.1%
    Hurricanes12.5%
    Floods6.6%
    Winter storms4.6%

    As one might expect, location of the person responding to the survey made a noticeable difference in how they replied. Some key examples being residents of California and Washington expressing more fear of earthquakes or wildfires, residents of Florida and Louisiana expressing more fear of hurricanes, and many Midwestern state residents choosing tornadoes.

    You can see the most feared natural disaster in each state below:

    (click to expand)

    Another interesting trend was that people who live in states that tend to be relatively free of frequent natural disasters (or those that don’t live on large fault lines) still responded that the natural disaster that scares them the most is still tornadoes. As an example, Vermont, a state not known for natural disasters, has on average one small tornado a year, but they still managed to top the list as most feared natural disaster.

    It makes sense, given the seemingly unpredictable and destructive nature, paired with the frequency at which they occur. As an example, while hurricanes might cause more damage as a singular event, there are only a handful of named storms every year. Whereas there are hundreds of tornadoes annually and they can occur in almost any state explaining the broad national fear.

    Regardless of what natural disaster scares you the most, it’s important to be prepared. We highly recommend following disaster preparedness guidelines set forth by Ready.gov when it comes to emergency planning.

    Survey methodology:

    • Survey respondents included 2,253 US residents.
    • All responses were collected online anonymously spread as evenly as possible across the United States.
    • 51.9% female, 48.1% male, 18+